Last week I posted the pop quiz that I gave my first-year seminar, “Jesus in Scholarship and Film,” on the opening day of the term. There are several reasons I give a quiz, even before the students have read, heard lectures, or discussed anything about the New Testament. For one thing, it’s a fun activity and we can have some laughs – it’s not graded and we go over the answers after they take it. For another thing, it’s important for me to know how much they know about the New Testament and early Christianity before we start the course. It’s also important for them to know how much they know – especially the students who were raised in church and assume they already know a lot. Some of them do; but not most. And sometimes they are chagrined when they find out. (If I had a nickel for every time a student has said to me, “Why haven’t I heard this before?” I could buy a condo on the Champs-Élysées.)
Even more important, in some ways, I use the quiz – or at least the answers to it – to begin teaching some of the basics beginning students need to know. Not all the questions are particularly “important” to that end, but they all do matter in one way or another. I never really have time to explain the full importance of each one, but I usually can say a couple of things before the class ends.
Here I’d like to give not only the answers but why the question might matter. This will take a few posts. This one can deal with the first two questions.
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